Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another Bewick's image

30th December 2010

Visited to Priory today hoping to connect with the Bewick's Swans that DK has reported this week. Sure enough they were in again overnight although tricky to spot first thing in the fog. I joined DK, JA and Ranger Nicky on the north side of the main lake waiting for the Bewick's to depart. DK said this had been just after 8 on previous mornings. Fortunately they stuck around a little longer this morning giving the fog a bit longer to clear.

Bewick's on the main lake

Bewick's depart north

Plenty of other birds in the open water on the main lake today including Mute Swans, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Tufted Ducks, Pochard and Great Crested Grebes but the Bewick's stole the show. A couple of male Sparrowhawks stopped briefly in the tree next to us as we watched the Swans.

At the STW bridge there were 6 Little Grebe, 2 female Tufteds and 3 Gadwall (2m/1f). As we watched the Little Grebe a single Barnacle Goose flew past heading for Willington.

A couple of Bullfinches were heard along the woodland walk.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday 23rd December

A very rare visitor to the park dropped in very briefly on thursday. it was last seen in the park in Feb 1997. Have you guessed what it is yet? Here's a clue...
Yes it's a bittern, snapped by Danny Fellman, just before it flew away.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

11th December 2010

Between 8am and 12.30pm today 30 birds of 10 species were caught, ringed and released in 'the rough.' New (retrap):

Great Tit 4 (6)
Blackbird 3 (0)
Great Spotted Woodpecker 0 (1)
Blue Tit 4 (4)
Dunnock 1 (0)
Wren 0 (1)
Marsh Tit 1 (0)
Long Tailed Tit 0 (3)
Bullfinch 0 (1)
Robin 0 (1)

Above: This Marsh Tit V670965 (an adult) is only the third caught & ringed at this site (the second this year, the only other being in 1993). DK got some photographs for the Priory Bird Report but DB & JA missed out having already left.

The Bullfinch was first ringed as a youngster on 11th October 2008 (also recaught a few times inbetween) and a retrap Great Tit was first ringed in Box 4 in May this year.

On my last visit (27th Nov.) I retrapped a Blackbird that was first ringed in August 2005 as a youngster.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Volunteer Task - Sunday 5th December

Worked with the volunteer group today, opening up the plantation next to the gas station. Eventually there will be a woodland trail through this plantation. While working, Long-tailed Tits were heard at various times as they passed through and a resident Robin warmed himself by the fire! A couple of Siskins passed over and plenty of Magpies started arriving, along the Cut, at the end of the day for the overnight roost. A Kestrel flew towards the Cut but decided against it when all the Magpies started after it and it made a quick exit.

I checked out Fingers on my way back to the car but no sign of any Little Egrets and the lake was completely frozen, as was much of the main lake. On the south side the wildfowl are keeping a small area of water free of ice.

Cracking sunset tonight.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A small flurry

A small flurry of snow didn't stop the bird ringing session this morning in 'The Rough.' The birds came in small flurries themselves although there wasn't much movement or singing from them at all today. 12 fly over siskins, a bullfinch and a redwing were visual highlights.

Above: The 3rd Great Spotted Woodpecker (adult female) caught in 'the rough' during the last 2 sessions.

Below: An adult male blackbird. There are lots of these feasting on the berries at the moment.

Ringing Results

Saturday 27th Nov: 24 birds of 9 species: 2 Long Tailed Tits, 9 Blue Tits, 2 Great Tits, 1 Wren, 2 Dunnocks, 4 Blackbirds, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Robin.

Sunday 21st Nov: 30 birds of 10 species: 7 Long Tailed Tits, 6 Blue Tits, 5 Great Tits, 3 Wren, 1 Dunnock, 3 Blackbird, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Song Thrush and 1 Sparrowhawk.

Above: The sparrowhawk from last week sporting a big bluge - presumably its lunch!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Guided Walk - 21st November 2010

On my pre-walk recce I had 4 Siskins over, 2 at the VC and 2 at the south east corner of Fingers. A Water Rail was heard calling from the north end of west Fingers. There were a minimum of 6 Teal spotted from Kramer hide, through the gap. 2 more Teal were around the back of Fingers by the Sedgewick Seat. 3 Little Grebe were on east Fingers.
During the Walk we had a Sparrowhawk high over Pressmead seen from the north side of the main lake. A little further along the path a Skylar passed overhead, west.
Following report courtesy of EN:-

Sunday: My last guided walk for the public at Priory CP today.

Plenty of interest on the main lake early on, in strong contrast to late morning when four double kayaks paddled through the winter wildfowl exclusion zone (almost every thing left!! including the gulls!!). 30 Cormorants, 14 Wigeon, a female R-C Pochard, ~30 Gadwall, ~100 Coot, 8 Tufted, an increasing number of 'straight' Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Lesser Black-back, Herring, Common & Black-headed Gulls. In contrast, there was little on Fingers apart from 2 Cormorant, 7 Shoveler and 3 Little Grebe. We only noticed about 4 different Grey Herons all morning.

Wattle & daub shelter under construction.

Eventually, we made it to the 'rough'. The female rangers are in the process of constructing a wattle and daub shelter for the school kiddies, with a reed thatched roof. It's to provide shelter from the sun or rain (H&S ?), but more likely to be used for nefarious purposes until some bright "spark" comes along! I hope the "long hedge" survives; it's our best leading line for migrants into the main ringing area.

Adult female Gt. Spotted Woodpecker - a retrap.

Ed was ringing this morning and by the time we rolled up he had caught 20 birds in his 3 nets. He was able to show us a Great Spot, a 1CY Song Thrush (possibly an immigrant) and a "this year's" female Great Tit, explaining how he had aged and sexed the birds.

The rest of the walk was rather uneventful; no Siskin flock found, 3 more juvenile Cormorants, a fly-by Kingfisher, a couple of skulking Teal ... and those blessed canoeists!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday 13th November 2010

A cracking morning for both weather and birds. It was quite an early start again but even through the murky light conditions it was easy to see the reduction in Coot numbers now the weed has reduced on the main lake. DK said that numbers peeked around the 250 mark but were down around to around 70 now. Wigeon were also much reduced in number this morning at around 8. There were 6 Pochard and 10 Tufted Ducks. Plenty of Gadwall spread around the main lake and a couple of pairs of Shoveler. DK said there had been 2 Black Swans during the week but no sign today. A couple of Meadow Pipits were heard overhead.

On Fingers 14 Shoveler (8m) and at least 8 Gadwall on west fingers. Teal were heard but not seen. 5 Little Grebe were on east Fingers, in the south east corner. Two Water Rail were heard, one in the crescent and one over towards Kramer hide. JA arrived as I headed back along the Spit and we headed down to the Crescent. Treecreeper calls were heard and tracked to the east side of the Crescent where it was spotted along with a Chiffchaff and then some calls overhead marked the arrival of 9 Siskins in the Alders, JA managed to get a single juvenile in the scope before they all departed.

Along the east side of Fingers a Treecreeper was heard and seen. A stop at Kramer hide returned Kingfisher and Bullfinch. A Water Rail flew from the reed beds to the island to the left of the hide.

We carried on along the Navigation Channel where a mixed flock of Tits followed. On Kingsmead there was a large flock of Wood Pigeons.

We checked out 100 Acre but the 2 lakes were very quiet. DK arrived and we all wandered back along the Nav Channel and around the main lake. DK spotted an oddity in the trees, on the far side of Kingsmead, which turned out to be a dead Magpie hanging upside down. It won't be greatly missed as there are plenty more around the park. EN arrived with pooch and we had a chat. It's his last week before he moves to Somerset so join us next Sunday for his last guided walk. Yours truly takes over after that.

On the main lake a large number of Gulls had arrived, mostly Black-headed with good numbers of Common and a couple of Lesser Black-backs. There were a couple of dead birds floating at the east end which looked like a Gull and a Coot although difficult to tell, very unusual though.

We stopped at the main lake hide to verify the numbers. Most of the Tufteds had gone.

The winter wildfowl zone is now closed off so we had to take the path around Pressmead, not much doing though. Back at the main lake and a Skylark passed overhead north. Along the west side there are still plenty of berries but no sign of the hoped for Blackcap.

Back at the car park and the end of a good mornings birding.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Saturday 6th November 2010

An earlier start this week and seemingly less about on the main lake than recently. However on closer inspection the Coots were distributed around the edge of the lake and island. I could not make out many Wigeon this week, in the low light but JA confirmed the usual numbers when he arrived later and had also had a Water Rail on the island.

On Fingers there were a dozen Gadwall, 2 pairs of Shoveler, single Tufted Duck and 3 Little Grebe. Along the Spit Bullfinch were seen along with a couple of Redwing and at least 6 Blackbirds.

At Kramer hide there were 5 Teal (3m2f) and 3 Kingfishers. Male and Female Sparrowhawks flew in, being harassed by Corvids.

Along the cycle track the lakes were very quiet again with just a couple of Little Grebe on the small pool. On the big lake a single Little Grebe was the highlight, along with a large party of Canada Geese, a couple of Mute Swans and a handful of Coots. Just 2 Coot on Meadow Lane GP.

On the slope up to the bridge over the bypass there was a dead Badger. There was a party of Long-tailed Tits moving between the trees on either side of the slope. At the Tern Pool there were 13 Tufted Ducks and a couple of Mute Swans.

Plenty of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits in the fields either side of the bypass and good numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover moving overhead between the fields and the pits. There were at least 90 Golden Plover and similar numbers of Lapwing but it was difficult to count due to the unsettled nature of the flocks.

Back at Fingers there were a couple of pairs of Teal around the back by the Sedgewick Seat. A few Pochard could be seen across the main lake by the hide, Gadwall were into double figures on the main lake and there were 2 large groups of Gulls on the main lake, mostly Black-headed but some Common also.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ringing totals for 30th October

Today's ringing totals from 'the rough' (7.30am to 1pm) brought the following totals: 35 birds of 10 species - new (retrap):

Redwing 4 (0)
Blue Tit 2 (1)
Great Tit 2 (5)
Long Tailed Tit 0 (4)
Bullfinch 2 (1)
Robin 0 (3)
Dunnock 1 (4)
Blackbird 3 (0)
Greenfinch 1 (0)
Wren 2 (0)

The total catch was reasonable and the first of the autumn redwing arrivals were caught and ringed (juveniles and adults). It was a bit slow mid-morning but picked up later on.

The feeding station didn't attract many birds but perhaps it isn't cold enough yet to make them desperate enough to be lured in to the feeders!

Other things of note, a flock of 18 lapwing flew over heading towards the main lake and a weasel made 2 brief appearances.

Saturday 30th October 2010

Another glorious autumn morning and still plenty of Coot on the main lake. I counted 162 at the east end alone! Wigeon numbered 37 on the main lake with a few Gadwall in the mix and a couple of Shoveler.

Met JA and Dk along the Spit, there were four Little Grebe on east Fingers, a dozen Gadwall and 4 Shoveler on west Fingers. A handful of flyover Redwing and Fieldfare were identified, still quiet on that front.

At Kramer hide the Duck Weed had all but gone. A pair of Shoveler were feeding over the back. A nice looking male Bullfinch stopped by and a couple of Song Thrushes were squabbling in the trees to the left of the hide. A Grey Squirrel looked like it was about to jump in the hide until it spotted us.

On leaving the hide we heard a different call and tracked down a Marsh Tit, which gave some good views but vanished as soon as it spotted the camera coming out of the bag!

Little about on the lakes by the cycle track with a couple of Little Grebe being the highlight, on the big lake. DK mentioned a report of a recent Otter sighting along the river at the mouth of the Cut.

Back in the park 3 Shoveler were round the back of Fingers and a couple of Redwing were spotted on the berries in the Rough.

Skylarks passed overhead in 2's and 3's during the morning but nothing to shout about. The female Red-crested Pochard was on the main lake again, with the Wigeon this week, making her a little more distinctive. Highlight of the morning was the Marsh Tit which I have been trying to catch up with since EN first reported it. Just need a photo next time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Turning wintery

Thursday 28th - signs of winter with 2 flocks of Fieldfare passing through south-west. Also 7 Repoll (sp.) over, probably 2 Marsh Tits in with mixed tit flock around Fingers and 4 Little Grebe outside Kramer. Still a goodly number of Mute Swans, Gadwall & Coot on the main lake.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday 23rd October 2010

The overnight had all but cleared through by the time I got to the Park this morning. The cloud cleared away quite quickly and it turned into a very nice sunny morning. The weed on the main lake is gradually disappearing, with the help of some further removal by the sailing club, ducks were mainly gathered on the remaining weed in the south west corner. Difficult to see through the bins but Wigeon numbers looked quite good this morning with just a handful of Gadwall and Shoveler with them. Coot numbers remain high on the main lake.

Met up with JA at the Finger Lakes but it was quiet with just 4 Gadwall, 3 Teal, 2 Tufted Ducks and a handful of Shoveler. Bullfinch were heard along the Spit. Kingfisher was seen perched, eating a fish, along the east side of big fingers.

Treecreeper was heard along the east side of Fingers. At Kramer hide most of the duckweed had gone, on the hide side, but there was little around with just a few Bullfinch calling from the Willows opposite.

We headed out along the cycle track but the first pool was lifeless and the second larger lake looked similar. A little further along the track gave better views of the large lake and we were able to spot a couple of Coot, a single Little Grebe and 3 Grey Herons. Meadow Lane GP held half a dozen Coot and a couple of young Mute Swans. By this time Mute Swan movements were increasing and a party of 13 flew over head, towards Priory main lake. Many others followed throughout the morning.

Just before crossing the bypass we checked out the waste ground where a party of 9 Red-legged Partridge stood in a huddle. Across the bridge the Tern Pool looked to be completely empty but the surrounding fields were full of Sky Larks singing in the autumn sun. A large flock of Lapwing flew over, increasing in number to ~100 which settled briefly on the ploughed field. They were very flighty and would not settle, some were seen later over the STW.

Back at the small pool on 100 Acre a transformation had occurred with ~20 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Little Grebe, a Moorhen and a Green Sandpiper now in attendance.

From the bridge we spotted a couple of Grey Wagtails at the mouth of the Cut. While watching them a Water Rail called from the STW reed bed.

Little else of interest as we made our way back through the park, however Mute Swan numbers had increased noticeably. There was very little sign of migration this morning with just local movements of a few Redwings and Fieldfare. A few higher flying Skylarks were moving through and a Meadow Pipit was spotted moving north east of VC when we got back there.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Guided Walk - Sunday 17th October

A very similar day to yesterday, a warmer start than expected, but dry and bright after the overnight cloud cleared away. 7 people joined the guided walk led by yours truly this morning. On the main lake it initially looked like a lot of the Coot had gone but they were just a bit more spread out than yesterday. Wigeon and Gadwall numbers were similar to yesterday. As I scanned the island I picked up a Water Rail just off the west end and managed to get it in the scope, but it disappeared around the far side of the island before anyone else could get a look. As we headed along the main path I spotted a Little Grebe close to the shore next a Coot and everyone managed to see it as it bobbed back to the surface having dived for cover. Unusual to see one so close, especially next to the footpath. 3 Common Gulls were loafing about with the more numerous Black-headed Gulls.

Along the Spit we had good views of Gadwall, Shoveler and Teal, along with Grey Herons, Coot and Moorhen. Bullfinch were heard along the Spit. Around the Crescent we caught up with the 3 regular Tufted Ducks on east Fingers. A Kingfisher made a couple of passes but managed to elude the rest of the group. This is a species where it is very useful to know the call as you mostly hear them first before locating and the blue blur as they zoom past low over the water. Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling around the Crescent.

Little of interest at Kramer hide, a Sparrowhawk was spotted flying out over Kingsmead and we stopped to view the Cormorants and Herons roosting in the trees on the far side of Kingsmead.

We walked around to the first small lake on 100 Acre but only had a single Little Grebe for our trouble. A Meadow Pipit passed over north east. A party of Goldfinch were flitting about in the trees by the bridge. A scan of the larger lake produced a group of feeding Pochard in the scope for everyone to see.

The Woodland Walk was quiet again. In fact it was quieting down as it usually does mid morning. As we walked back into the Finger Lakes complex a single female Teal was surprisingly calm as we walked past and the canopy was alive with the calls of Long-tailed Tits. The Rough was very quiet. A stroll back to the Visitor Centre, across the Meadows, produced little else to trouble the scorers.

Earlier, ~30 Redwings passed overhead in 3 groups along with a handful of Fieldfares, mostly heading west. A couple of small groups of Skylarks (3 and 3) passed over early and late on in the morning. I spotted a Muntjac on one of the fingers of west Fingers early on. A flock of ~80 Wood Pigeon were spotted high up heading south.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday 16th October 2010

A dry and bright start to the day, warmer than I expected with the wind from the north east. Once again a number of Gadwall and Wigeon (14) on the weed beds in front of the Sailing club. 100+ Coot were in the same area but there were many more around the main lake with 62 counted later at the east end. JA joined me and we headed down towards Fingers, a small party of 9 Fieldfare passed over low west. Along the Spit a couple of Bullfinch were calling and on West Fingers 8 Gadwall, 6 Shoveller and 14 Teal were feeding. A Kingfisher also flew past. 3 Tufted Ducks were on East Fingers. At Kramer hide at least 4 Bullfinch with one male showing particularly well. a handful of Mallards, a Grey Heron and Green Woodpecker were also seen. A Water Rail showed briefly as it flew between reed beds and then disappeared into the middle of the reeds.

We headed along the navigation channel and JA spotted our first flock of Redwings which disappeared behind the plantation before we could count them. I spotted a distant flock of birds over Riverside, the bins revealed a small group of Starlings with a Sparrowhawk shadowing them. It was like a bait ball with a shark circling!

Along the cycle track at the first pool a pair of Teal, 2 Little Grebe, a couple of Mute Swans and Snipe was a reasonable return. The large lake looked to be devoid of life excepting a Little Grebe and a Moorhen. Meadow Lane GP held about 7 Coot and a couple of Mute Swans. Heading back along the Cycle Track another large flock of Starlings was spotted over the STW. This flock was a bit more significant numbering in excess of 300. A Little Grebe was on the Navigation Channel as we crossed the bridge back towards the park.

The Woodland Walk was quiet as was the north side of Fingers although a couple of Sparrowhawks put on a show over the Rough. A couple of small parties of Redwing passed over low north west, both numbering in the mid twenties.

We continued around the main lake and were surprised to spot a single Swallow over the meadow in the south east corner.

Still plenty of Coot on the main lake with a dozen Black-headed Gulls blogging about over by the hide. Half a dozen Cormorants were over on the island. Gadwall and Wigeon were still on the Weed but when the Sailing Club opened for business the Wigeon Soon departed north east.

So a pretty good morning all in all with in the region of 100 Redwing and Fieldfares through and plenty of ducks in with very good views of Gadwall in the north west corner of the main lake.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Weekend migration steps up a gear

'October Dawn' Priory Country Park

DK & EN walked the full two hour transect this morning. It started in dull light but eventually the sun shone through. There was far less wind this morning compared to yesterday's.

Wildfowl on the main lake included Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Tufted, a lone male Pochard, Shoveler, Teal and a Little Grebe, in addition to the "permanent" Coot, Moorhen, Cormorants and Mute Swans. Great Crested Grebes were down to three on the main lake with two on Fingers. There was a good deal of disturbance from 9 o'clock as members busied themselves at the Sailing Club, forcing many of the birds to take flight. That allowed some increased counts to be made as the birds flew around.

On dry land (in the bushes, etc), singleton Reed Warbler, Blackcap and Reed Bunting were unexpectedly found. A fair number of Robins and Chaffinch were seen/heard with lesser numbers of Dunnock and Wren. On the thrush front, Blackbird and SongThrush were outnumbered by Redwings. Overhead, small parties of Redwing moving south or south-west were almost continuous; the first real day of visible migration of the species. Other birds over and calling included more than usual numbers of Sky Lark (going east into the wind), small bands of determined Wood Pigeon, singles of Kingfisher, Siskin, Redpoll, Linnet and Chiffchaff, a poss. Brambling, with twos and threes of late Swallows hurrying south-west later on. There was a good passage of Lesser Black-backs south-west, lasting most of the two hours of observation.
'Autumn Tranquility' at the Fingers Lake (north-west section)

The Sparrowhawks were busy today and seen several times (both sexes). Other birds noted included Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Grey Wag, Pied Wag, Crow, Blue & Great Tits, Long-tailed Bushtits, both Green & Gt. spotted Woodpeckers and Goldfinch. Missing this morning but seen yesterday were Goldcrest, Marsh Tit and Treecreeper.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

... and today!

With migration of many species in full swing, today I picked up on the following moving birds - Chiffchaff (4 ringed), Chaffinch, Goldfinch (1 caught, many seen), Robin (3 new females caught), Goldcrest (2 caught), Greenfinch and Siskin. From my position, I could not keep a look-out for Jay, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit or Swallow, although I did hear a "alba" wagtail [but we do have resident Pieds]. Some Redwings are "in", albeit in low numbers, but the main Thrush arrival is expected this weekend /Monday. Eyes and ears peeled!
Anyone for a Yellow-browed?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Recent birding, etc.

Just to keep tabs on what is happening - or not - down at the park, here goes.
Migration of both outbound and inbound birds is underway. As I write, Swallows continue mainly south-west sometimes as singles but also in small parties of maybe two dozen, more especially mid-morning. House Martins are also visible either high up (binoculars needed) or low down when there is a stiff breeze. Meadow Pipits continue to arrive or pass through in ones and twos. Sky Larks, too, are evident at the moment.
A few thrushes have come and gone. Robin numbers have picked up and they are now solitary and defending territory with their winter song. High flying Song Thrushes can be spotted early doors, or maybe some of these were Redwings just recently? Some Blackbirds have left while others from "up north" or possibly the 'Low Countries' have taken their place.
There are still a few Blackcaps and Reed Warblers skulking around in the bushes, trying to increase their fat load before emigrating. Chiffs are still pottering through; some will be our late youngsters, others from further afield in the UK and some from Scandinavia with their "sweeeoo" call. Brambling have been heard flying over locally and there is a continuing increase in the number of Chaffinches moving south for the winter. The odd Buzzard has been drifting our way lately as well.
On the lakes, the number of Mute Swans has diminished to a couple of dozen, as the weed sinks out of reach. Gadwall numbers have also dropped slightly as the amount of weed decreases. They are still joined by a dozen or so Wigeon. You will notice that the grebes have also gone down but numbers will recover shortly as the winter birds arrive. The Coot still hang on in good numbers - but will they desert for better pastures when the weed is exhausted? I doubt it, as they will dive to the bottom for it instead of having it easy.
The juvenile Marsh Tit continues to excite and can be seen or heard, usually on the western side of the Fingers complex. Blue Tits and Wrens are becoming more noisy and visible, but the incessant "squeaks" of the Long-tailed Tits give their presence away in thicker cover. The Great Spotted 'peckers have also started calling again, making seeing them just that bit easier. Kingfishers have also returned but a harder to pick up. even though they are spotted daily by someone or other.
What will October bring us? This time of year can turn up almost anything, big or small. Eyes to the skies!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Sunday 3rd October: Orchard Management

This month's task was helping to improve the old orchard in the middle of Mowsbury Hill Fort, adjacent to the golf course. Orchards are a nationally important habitat; the orchard at Mowsbury has been somewhat neglected and the task was to begin to clear back scrub from around the orchard to improve the light. Further work to help restore the orchard should take place later in the year.

Despite the dire weather forecast four stalwart volunteers helped to bash scrub back around the orchard, raked off grass from a nearby wildflower glade, which is covered by hundreds of orchids in the spring and began to knock back some of the scrub by the glade too.

The rain mainly held off and all had a very enjoyable day clearing back scrub. As ever Priory Rangers would like to thank Paul N., Paul B, Gordon and Alan for all their hard work, it is much appreciated.

The next task is coppicing at Putnoe Woods on 7th November. The wood is divided into several coppice plots and the hazel is cut on a seven-year cycle. The coppiced hazel is used for stakes and binders for hedgelaying by local conservation groups, by a local morris group for morris sticks, as well as by schools who want natural materials for local craft projects. Cutting a different plot each year gives rise to a variety of habitats of different age and degrees of canopy cover, encouraging a diversity of flora and fauna.

If you would like to help us maintain the biodiversity of these beautiful woodlands please come along and help on the 7th of November.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More migrants

Another ringing session on Sunday produced 42 birds. Go here for the full story.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday 25th September

My first weekend at the park for a while, having been away on holiday, and it's turned to Autumn! As I walked down to the main lake the distinctive quack of the Gadwall led me to the north west corner where 46 Gadwall were picking through the weed along with a large number of Coot and 15 Wigeon. Mute Swan numbers were well down compared to my last visit but Coot numbers have remained stable if not increased. The single female Tufted with the white mark around the bill was on the south side of the lake along with a single Little Grebe. Black-headed Gull numbers have significantly increased with quite a few loafing about over towards the main lake hide. A Sparrowhawk flew over the east side of the main lake and was intercepted by 4 Carrion Crows over the south east corner for some spectacular aerobatics.

At Fingers a single male Tufted Duck, 4 Teal and another 2 Gadwall intermingled with the numerous Mallard. Another Little Grebe was feeding around the edge of the Crescent until we spooked it.

At Kramer hide a Blackcap was calling but that was about all. We headed up to the STW reedbed looking for the Cetti's, that DK had earlier in the week, no sign but a couple of Mute Swans on the River were having a face off. A Kingfisher passed over the bridge and up the Cut. On the first small lake on 100 Acre a number of Mallard were accompanied by a single Tufted Duck and a Little Grebe and on the big lake Pochard numbers were well into double figures.

Back around Fingers little of note with very few birds visible or calling. As we headed down the main path by the Crescent a Chiffy was calling. Along the Canoe Slalom a couple of Grey Wagtails were feeding and Mistle Thrush flew over up near The Barns Hotel.

Back at the main lake a couple of Wigeon remained on the south side of the island and most of the Gadwall, along with another Wigeon, remained in the north west corner although half flew, along with the one Wigeon, as we headed for the car park.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday 22nd

Details of the morning's ringing session can be found here.
A new species was ringed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Guided walk Sunday 19th

A cool, blustery day with occasional showers and grey skies.
200 Barnacle geese flew west shortly after 9am; Robin Edwards counted c.185 at Willington earlier. 3 Tufted took off from the lake.

Still lots of Coot feeding on the aquatic weed which is now spreading well out from the NE corner of the main lake. Two young Moorhen, possible about 3 weeks old, were being fed weed a little way down from the centre building. A very good count of House Martins was feeding over the lake and the trees surrounding Fingers; one Sand Martin was seen closing in on the island. A male Sparrowhawk drifted in from the east, only to be teased by the martins.

All 5 cygnets were present on Fingers together with 7 Gadwall (5 males, 2 females), a couple of Heron and umpteen Mallard. A Kingfisher was heard to call. We bumped into two flocks of Long-tails accompanied by a few Blue Tits. There was a Marsh Tit in the 'rough', but no warblers were heard this morning. Very noticeable were Robins, many now able to sing their winter song to defend a territory.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Last of the summer

Ringing session after a 'cold' night (8C) yielded few birds, certainly none of note. A tad too sunny and the predicted breezy SW wind was actually W - not our favourite direction or strength!

An early Chiffchaff turned out to be an adult female that had recently completed her full moult; we know she had just started it on 27th July and we know she can only have finished it this week as she has not put on any fat at all.
A Long-tailed Bushtit was first caught on 12th August last year as an adult undergoing moult.
Apart from a juvenile female Chaffinch, showing a bit of fattening, the rest were 5 new, juvenile Blue Tits.

Overhead was a different story. 150-200 House Martins spent much of the early morning over the main lake and then some followed the tractor across the meadows as the flail disturbed insects. A 'white-headed' Hobby, 2 Jays and a male Kestrel spiced up the session. Feeding on the remaining berries and the nectar from the ivy, now in full flower, were 3 Chiffs, 3 Blackcaps and the fattest Graden Warbler I have ever seen; it gave off some scolding calls whenever a Chiff came too near. I also had fleeting glimpses of what I took to be an immature Pied Flycatcher, a pale brownish bird with striking pale edges to the tertials, sometimes uttering a quiet "fis, fis" call.

The feeders are up and filled, ready for the autumn!
PS. a Marsh Tit has found my nuts! (per DK)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday 12th

September rushes on, the birds move out, ready for the "winter lot".

Ringing today produced the following in the nets (retraps in brackets):
Blue Tit 3, Great Tit 1, Blackcap 6 (1), Blackbird 1 (2), Robin 2 (2), Dunnock 1 (1), Greenfinch 1, Goldfinch 2. That's 23 birds in total.
The Blackcaps are putting on a lot of fat for their journey south - all, that is, bar one, the retrap now caught on the last three sessions. Now that the tits "are back", we will have to think about reinstating the feeding station soon. The two Goldfinch were able to fly but could not have been out of the nest for very long.

Other birds seen by us included 4 Tufted, 4 Swift, 14 House Martin, a Buzzard, a Jay and a Spotted Flycatcher. A party of Long-tailed Bushtits passed close by, along with a couple of Chiffchaff.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday 4th September: Meadow Management

After 2 months off over the summer the Priory Volunteers met once again to do battle with the blackthorn.

Hidden in the park we have a small glade where the wildlife can shelter away from people. Every year to maintain biodiversity in the meadow we cut the meadow and rake the arisings to reduce the nutrient content of the soil.

After raking the meadow in record time the volunteers then turned their attention to the blackthorn scrub surrounding the meadow and gave it a good cut back - in some places revealing some large rabbit warrens!
The blackthorn needs to be cut back to prevent it from taking over the meadow.
The sloes were almost ready and were quickly harvested by those who wanted them - they are rich in Vitamion C and used by many to make sloe gin, although our volunteers had to make do with tea and biscuits as usual!
The photos show volunteer Paul raking and volunteer Dave getting to grips with the Blackthorn.

Thanks to our Volunteers Dave, Becky, Alan, Paul and John for all their hard work.
Our next volunteer day is on the 3rd October at Mowsbury Hill Fort - a bit of orchard management and scrub clearance.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

On the move

Another quick ringing session after the rain this morning produced the following:
1 late Garden Warbler (fat), 1 scrawny Reed Warbler (not fat), 5 new chubby Blackcaps (3 fat, 2 still trying), a retrap juv. female from last week (trying to put on weight) & an adult male completing its moult which it started in the middle of July! - and hence 'no fat' , having put all its energy into growing new feathers so far. All were birds of the year except this.

Only other birds of note were a Marsh Tit, 2 flocks of Long-tails, and at least 3 Chiffs feeding up on the Elderberries. There were 4 Gadwall on the main lake and DK had some/a (?) Wigeon. Suspect the Gadwall were moved by whatever spooked the Ruddy Shelduck off Fingers as well.

bedsbirds : Message: Ruddy Shelduck @ Priory

bedsbirds : Message: Ruddy Shelduck @ Priory

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tues 31st Aug

Another quick ringing session with half the CES nets plus a 40'.

Catch was just 12: - Marsh Tit 1, Blackcap 3, Garden Warbler 1, C.Whitethroat 1, Song Thrush 1, Wren (1), Robin (1), Dunnock 1 (2). All were youngsters except the Whitethroat which was in heavy moult and it had nor accumulated any fat so far; points to it being "a local".

As well as the Marsh Tit, also a Jay moving west, a Yellow WAg going south, a Lesser Whitethroat still, a Green Sandpiper calling (and seen on the beach by ANOther), a Lesser Redpoll south, an unringed Garden Warbler, a Willow Warbler and several 'young' Chiffchaffs. At least 14 Goldfinches in and around the 'rough', along with Gt. Spot and Green Woodpecker. Last but not least, a Treecreeper, a precursor to the mixed Long-tailed and Great Tit flock which headed for the tall Ash & Oak trees.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sat 28th Aug

Main Lake and area - 15 Shoveler, 1 Wigeon, 15 C.Swift, c.20 House Martin, 8 Cormorant
Fingers - 2 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, Kingfisher

Long Hedge - ringing totals were: Chiffchaff 2, Blackcap 6, C.Whitethroat 3, Blackbird 3, Song Thrush 4, Robin 1, Dunnock 4, Chaffinch 1, Goldfinch 1.
Birds seen whilst ringing - Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, ~8 Goldfinch, juv Gt. Spot.Woodpecker, Greenfinch, party of Long-tailed and other Tits. No sign of last weekend's Spotted Flycatcher(s).

Total number of individual birds caught during the CES (Constant Effort) period (May-August) was 370, made up of 115 adults and 195 juveniles plus an extra 60 pulli ringed in local nest boxes that have not been recaptured to date. So far, 56 Blackcaps have been ringed this year (with 5 recaptures from previous years - 1 female & 4 males) but the season has not ended. We hope to be catching them for another 6 weeks yet.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saturday 21st August 2010

Overcast this week but at least it was dry and very warm and muggy. There were 16 Canada's and a single Greylag Goose up by the Sailing club which departed shortly after I left. Mute Swan numbers looked a little down this week which was confirmed later with counts on the mid 60's for main lake, plus the 3 cygnets and the pair and 5 cygnets on Fingers. I spotted at least one Gadwall over the far side of the main lake accompanied by 3 others that were probably Gadwall but difficult to tell at that distance. There were at least 2 more on Fingers. Little else of note on Fingers.

Along the Spit there were at least 3 Treecreepers and another along the east side of big Fingers.

Still some Warblers about, even one singing Chiffchaff. Blackcap and Garden Warbler reported by DK who also spotted a Weasel.

Having rounded Fingers and arrived back at the main path I spotted a Kestrel hovering low over the grass by the Crescent. It dropped down but came up empty clawed.

At the Canoe Slalom just a single Grey Wagtail this week. From the south side of the main lake I was able to count the Swifts over the Rough which numbered at least 25. There were many more Martins over the main lake but try as I might I was unable to spot a House Martin in amongst the Sands. DK had at least one.

That was it for the morning despite some wishful thinking by DK, hopefully we'll get something different during the autumn migration.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

CES ringing

Sunday 15th - another "slow" day with a change of numbers across the species, Notable absentees were Willow Warbler (expected) and Chiffchaff (youngsters moved on but some calling from the bushes).

16 new birds (& 8 retraps)
Wren (1)
Robin (1)
Blackbird 1 (3) - several young birds re-caught
Reed Warbler 2
Les. Whitethroat 1
C. Whitethroat 1
Garden Warbler 4 - today's special!
Blackcap 4
Blue Tit 2 (1)
Gt. Tit (2)
Bullfinch 1

Other birds about: - male Sparrowhawk (twice), a few Swallows, Common Terns (youngsters calling for food), Gt. Spot and Green Woodpecker, COMMON SANDPIPER. No Swifts seen.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday 14th August 2010

Very wet on arrival, keeping me in my car for a while until the worst of it cleared through.

Mute Swan numbers remain constant, just a single Canada Goose and ~70 Coot on the main lake. A single Little Grebe was on the south side of the island.

Nothing on the Canoe Slalom this week. 8 Heron on Kingsmead and a Kestrel in one of the trees on the far side.

Back into the Finger lakes near the Sedgewick Seat I heard a Treecreeper in the Willows and a bit of patience was rewarded by a sighting. From the Spit I spotted at least 3 Gadwall. Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard.

Around the Crescent Kingfisher was heard over East Fingers.

As I headed back to the car ~7 Common Terns arrived and chased noisily around the main lake. Very quiet otherwise.

Swallows seem to be on the move south with several parties noted passing through including a 9 and 30, the latter skimming low across the main lake before gaining height and disappearing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More ringing results

On the 8th, we returned hoping to do better than last week. We suceeded - just.

Wren 1, a recent fledgling
Robin 3, a mixed bag of youngsters
Blackbird 2 (2)
Song Thrush 1, a recent fledgling
Whitethroat 5, including an adult completing its wing moult, a sign that it will soon depart for Africa
Garden Warbler 3, scruffy youngsters getting 'dressed' for the off
Blackcap 3, included a new adult male
Chiffchaff 2
Willow Warbler 1, number 4!
Long-tailed Bushtit 1, a stray youngster
Blue Tit 3 (2)
Great Tit 1 (1)
Chaffinch 1, a fine male
Goldfinch 2, possibly a pair
Bullfinch 1, a breeding last-year's female.

Well, that was 35, but we had to exploit two sub-sites to reach it.

Back for another go next weekend, if the weather permits.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Saturday 7th August 2010

A fairly quiet morning with very few Warblers seen/heard, but at least it wasn't raining this week. No Canada Geese on the main lake but Mute Swan numbers remain a similar levels with ~99 + the 3 cygnets, although they were difficult to count this week with a large number tightly grouped together by the island. There was also a single Tufted Duck on the main lake. There seems to have been a die off of Bream with at least 3 dead fish noted at the beach end of the main lake and another spotted rolling about on the surface, seemingly in distress.

On Fingers the Mute Swan family were in the usual position on one of the islands in front of Kramer hide, in fact I'm not sure they have moved in 3 weeks! On west fingers at least 5 Gadwall were spotted in amongst the Mallards. It's a bit more challenging this time of year, with all the males in eclipse plumage, identifying individuals but good fun all the same. Kingfisher was also heard and seen from Kramer hide and later at the Canoe Slalom.

At the Canoe Slalom, as well as the Kingfisher, at least 5 Grey Wagtails were seen, along with a large cloud of, less welcome, midges.

Just a family of Common Whitethroats between the Woodland Walk and Fingers, our only Warbler count of the morning. We also had a single Common Blue butterfly by the south entrance to the Woodland Walk.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Latest ringing results

We went on the Sunday, the first day of the month and the new period.

A tad on the slow side this morning, although conditions were about right - light breeze and plenty of cloud cover. However, this is the time of year when most of the birds are beginning to moult and the juveniles disperse to pastures new.

So here are the totals for new birds (and retraps):
Great Tit (3)
Chiffchaff 3 (1, a moulting adult female)
Willow Warbler 1, only our 3rd bird of the year
Blackcap 2 (1, an adult moulting male from 2007)
C. Whitethroat 2 (1)
Reed Warbler 1
TREECREEPER 1, a fresh juvenile, our 1st of the year
Wren 2
Blackbird 1, an adult male!!
Robin 1, getting its red breast, (1)
Dunnock 2
Chaffinch (1)
Goldfinch 1, our 1st juvenile of the year.

Overhead we watched c.14 C.Swifts, the terns toing and froing from the Willington or further east. EG had a Little Egbert while EN spotted a Sparrowhawk. The woodpeckers were a little quiescent, giving a funny squeeky sound and the most half-hearted of drummings.
On the ground we had a Hedgehog and a Weasel, both out in broad daylight. The 'piggy' looked healthy and the mustelid was harassing the rabbits with good effect.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday 31st July 2010

A rather wet start to the day but myself and JA braved the conditions and were rewarded with a Kingfisher sighting at the Cardinton Spillway and 3 Grey Wagtails at the Canoe Slalom. The Mute Swan count was 101 + 3 cygnets on the main lake and the 2 adults and 5 cygnets on Fingers. Just 13 Canada Geese this week and they all left at about 08:30. An Oystercatcher was heard over the Rough heading north east. Those were the highlights of a very soggy morning.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday 24th July 2010

A Willow Warbler singing in the car park was the first for a while, DK had another down along the Spit. On the main lake just 40 Canada Geese this week but still 102 Mute Swans. A couple of Reed Warblers were moving in the reeds opposite the VC.

Not much on Fingers, DK mentioned a Little Grebe which we didn't see, just a lot of Mallards, Moorhens and Coots.

After last weeks blank on singing Whitethroats we had a couple this week, one around Fingers and the other along the cycle track. We had a good look around the large lake on 100 Acre where we had juvenile Great Crested Grebe, 3 Little Grebe (possibly including a juvenile), Tufted Duck with single duckling, several Lapwing and a single Common Sandpiper. There was also a good size flock of Goldfinch feeding on the thistle heads numbering at least 40.

Just before we crossed over the bypass we spotted a Tufted and 8 ducklings on the L shaped lake next to the bypass. Not much on the Tern Pool, in fact little else until we got back to the Cut which we followed upstream along the Riverside side. Just before we crossed the stream we heard some young Sparrowhawks calling. We continued up to the park entrance and back down the other side of the Cut to locate the Sprawks again and managed some views of through the thick foliage. There were at least 2 youngsters judging by the locations of the calls and possibly 3.

Back to the car park and the Willow Warbler was still singing, a nice end to the morning.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday 17th July 2010

A fairly quiet morning as is normal this time of year. 104 Mute Swans + 3 Cygnets on the main lake, along with 89 Canada Geese. Couldn't see the 2 Great Crested Grebe nests by the main lake island. The Fingers Grebe chick and accompanying adult were still on east Fingers. Just one Coot chick left on west Fingers.

JA and myself set off along the cycle track with just 3 Little Grebes of note on the large lake on 100 Acre. A lot of Sand Martins over the Tern Pool and surrounding crop fields. Odd Skylarks singing but no sign of any Yellow Wagtails again.

Followed the track around the river loop and took the short cut between the 2 lakes toward Willington. Plenty of butterflies including Common Blue, Small Copper, Comma, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown. Not much Damselfly/Dragonfly activity but still quite a few Common Blue damselflies active alongside Dovecote Lake.

Heading back along the main cycle track we checked out the Broadleaf Helleborines that had escaped the mowers attentions, not the most spectacular of orchids. The raucous call of a Jay off to our left and then a fly over individual from our right were the first for me for quite some time. Back at the Tern Pool the Martins were still active and a Common Buzzard drifted over towards the main gravel pit.

At Meadow Lane GP we confirmed the Little Grebe sighting from last week with 2 adults and a stripey headed juvenile present. Then we headed back into the park and along the north side of the New Meadow. Pretty quiet but enjoyable all the same.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saturday 10th July 2010

A brief visit to the park on Saturday morning, on the way to the BNHS guided walk at Willington. Mute Swan numbers topped the hundred this week with 101 plus the 3 cygnets on the main lake. Canada Geese numbered 89. By the main lake island we appear to have 2 nesting Grest Crested Grebes, the first time i can remember grebes nesting on the main lake. There was also a well grown youngster from this year on the main lake, given away by the stripey head. Not sure where that flew in from.

Still plenty of Reed Warbler activity in the main lake reed bed. On Fingers the juvenile Great Crested Grebe is still being looked after by a single adult. Not sure where the other one is.

Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting at the STW reed bed. Plenty of singing Black Caps and Common Whitethroats. Skylarks singing by the bypass. Couldn't find a Yellow Wagtail by the Tern Pool again. Continued around the Tern Pool and joined the cycle path on it's diversion down by the river. Checked out the small pool next to the bypass to find a couple of young Great Crested Grebes with a single adult.

Continued along the cycle track and took the new path past the Dovecote Lake to the Dovecote in Willington to join up with the guided walk which concentrated on Dragonflies and Damselflies. I learned quite a bit in the morning session before departing at lunchtime and heading back to Priory.

On the way back, from the bridge over the bypass, I had a pair of Oystercatchers each with a well grown youngster by the L shaped pool. At Meadow Lane GP I spotted a Little Grebe feeding a well grown youngster.

Another scorching morning was over and it was back home for a cool down.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Saturday 3rd July 2010

Another glorious summer day began with the Mute Swan and Canada Goose counts on the main lake. This week it was 99 Mute Swans + 3 cygnets and 90 Canada Geese. Add to that the 2 Mute Swans and 5 cygnets on Fingers. There were a lot of Swifts about this morning over the main lake. A Reed Warbler burbled in the reeds by the main lake opposite the VC. Several more were flitting to and fro between the Crescent and the main lake reed bed further along the path. Joined DK and strolled around the Crescent and the Spit, No sign of the Gadwall that DK had in the week and little at all really other than Mallards, Coots and Moorhens. The Great Crested Grebe chick was accompanied by one adult with the other adult unseen (on nest somewhere?). JA joined us having just seen a Little Egret passing over. DK had another later on but sadly there won't be a photograph, his memory card was back home in the computer! Needless to say the air was a little blue, or so I was told.

Myself and JA headed off along the nav channel and had good views of a Sedge Warbler in full song with several flight songs thrown in. Incidentally it was very quiet at Kramer hide with the young Jackdaws now nowhere to be seen.

As we headed off along the cycle track a Sparrowhawk popped up out of the trees along the Cut having put the wind up all the birds in the area. There was little of note on the 100 Acre lakes although a Redshank was heard. Plenty of Skylarks up towards the bypass a large party of Rooks just over the bypass. Looked like youngsters hanging around by the edge of the field and adults bringing food to them. No sign of any Yellow Wagtails by the Tern Pool.

Having just crossed back over the bypass all the Rooks suddenly got up and then a couple of Buzzards came into view and flew directly overhead grappling with each other a few times as they went. They were last seen over Castle Mill.

Back in the park we caught up with EN, ringing in the Rough and having quite a successful morning.

Red Admiral, Comma, Meadow Brown, Tortoise shell and white butterflies were seen throughout the morning with Comma being the most frequently seen.

A quiet morning all told but not unusual for this time of year. There are still plenty of singing Warblers to be had but much more difficult to see in the thick foliage. The Cuckoos seem to have departed and once again no Kingfisher!

Monday, June 28, 2010

w/e Sun 27th June

Midsummer birding is always steady with little change; that's 'cos we're in between the last of the spring and the first of the autumn movements. Saying this, some Black-headed Gulls have returned already from their breeding grounds.

There are still large numbers of moulting Canadas on the main lake (on the grass if you're out very early) and the Mute Swan flock continues to feed on the much unsolicited pondweed; 91 of each were counted on Sunday. Quotations have been sought to tackle the weed problem.
On Sunday, I conducted what is likely to be my last guided walk. Checking out a lone crow flying overhead, I scored a Rook instead. Most of the birdsong activity was coming from either Blackcaps or Song Thrushes; in contrast the Reed Warblers were very quiet this week.

During the week, we caught two juvenile Garden Warblers, which were moulting their median coverts. This is about as far as they go, preferring to finish their main moult on the wintering grounds in equatorial Africa.

One couldn't help noticing the young Jackdaws. Their squawking could be heard whereever you were in the conservation and new meadow areas. They mostly sat up in the trees between the Kramer hide and the old dipping platform, waiting for mum or dad to come back with food. Meantime, they "chatted each other up", as they do.

Another bird that was conspicuous was the Common Whitethroat. The males gave their short, scratchy song from the bush tops as they moved around looking for insects for their broods. The early birds are already going about having a second brood after sucessfully rearing their first.

We had a short early morning ringing session where we retrapped a female Blackbird. She had a broken tail as a result of a lack of food at a critical point in the moult cycle last autum. She had originally been ringed as a juvenile female five years previously - to the day.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Saturday 19th June 2010

Despite the bright sunny start a northerly breeze kept the temperature down. There were plenty of Swifts and Martins over the main lake on arrival and the Mute Swans and Canada Geese were all gathered at the sailing club. Final count for Mute Swans was 94 with 3 cygnets left on the main lake. Didn't see the Fingers pair this week, must have been tucked around the back somewhere. Canada Geese numbered 78 with 10, well developed, goslings.

JA joined me and we wandered down to Fingers where the highlights were a pair of Tufted Ducks, Kingfisher and the Great Crested Grebe chick swallowing a fish nearly it's own size!

The only sign of the Spindle Ermine Moth caterpillars was the webs covering many of the Spindleberry trees, although we did find a small clump of caterpillars later along the woodland walk.

We stopped at Kramer hide to watch the young Jackdaws in the trees opposite including a completely bald individual.

Pretty quiet as we headed towards the STW bridge but a Cuckoo showed well over the Woodland Walk before crossing over Kingsmead and then over towards Riverside. At the bridge an Oystercatcher passed low overhead, northeast. On the first pool on 100 Acre a few Crows were picking over the carcass of some unidentified creature and a Lesser Black-backed Gull joined the party. JA spotted a Little Grebe through the scope on the larger lake.

Back in the park we spotted a couple of Grey Wagtails next to the Canoe Slalom. A Kestrel was hunting over Fenlake and a Stock Dove was singing in the trees behind the Leat Pool.

It was very quiet along the west wall although the wind had got up quite a bit by that time. Final counts were made of the Mute Swans and Canada Geese before we retired to our cars to warm up. Isn't it supposed to be summer!?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday 12th June 2010

After a couple of weekends away it was good to get back down the park to see what had changed. First thing of note was the 4 cygnets with the 2 adult Mute Swans by the island on the main lake. The number of Mute Swans on the main lake is still very high with a max count of 95 this morning. The Canada Geese seem to have given incubating their oiled eggs now and 68 were on the grass in front of the sailing club first thing.

JA joined me and we wandered down to the Finger Lakes where both Great Crested Grebes were in the middle of east Fingers. One of them looked very fluffed up so we suspected a chick was on its back. Several minutes later we were rewarded when a small stripey head appeared.

Little else of note on Fingers excepting 2 Occupied Coot nests with a couple of youngsters from the first broods hanging around nearby.

We had noticed a number of trees covered in web and when we reached Kramer hide we found the culprits were caterpillars, probably from one of the ermine moths (Spindle Ermine?). They were hanging from long threads of silk, many in large bunches, surely a welcome meal for the many young Tits around the park. It was like an assault course trying to get to the hide while avoiding the silk lines.

We headed out along the cycle track and the large lake on 100 Acre provided the most interest with Little Grebe calling, Redshank (2), Lapwing (min 5), Grey Heron (5) and several Mallards (inc. 4 ducklings) and Tufted Ducks. A couple of Pheasants got into a fight along the edge of the lake, always fun to watch. A Great Crested Grebe with a slightly larger chick riding on its back was a nice surprise.

Just a couple of Tufteds, pair of Coot and a Mute Swan on Meadow Lane GP and a few Tufteds, Coots and a GCG on the Tern Pool. A single Yellow Wagtail showed well before disappearing into the crops alongside the Tern Pool.

There was a Common Buzzard over Octagon, drifting towards Cardington as we made our way back to the park.

Little else of note for the rest of the walk although a text, belatedly picked up by JA, from EG left us frustrated having missed a Red Kite over the Rough. Another time maybe.

Red Kite over the Rough (Picture courtesy of Dave Kramer)

More info regarding the Red Kite courtesy of EN:

Red Kite Milvus milvus

[Wing tags] 1 West Yorkshire ??-06-00
RR Priory CP 12-06-10
~ 210 km SSE, c. 3650 days

Note: This bird was picked up flying over ‘the Rough’ during a CES visit at 08:35 BST and was subsequently identified by its wing tags (Right=pink, Left= orange) from a photograph by Dave Kramer.

Young from the Chilterns population were released in West Yorkshire from 1999-2003. No birds in this population have been wing-tagged after 2006.

Pink as a year code was used in 2000 & 2009, therefore this bird has to be 2000 and probably a Chiltern chick taken north. W. Yorkshire birds have bred in Northants.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Sat 5th June - Ringing, etc

A dawn session for Reed Warblers at the beach end of the main lake yielded 12 different ones. Altogether, 20 birds (8 new & (12) retraps, 2 of which were new-for-year) of 7 species were ringed as follows: Wren 1, Dunnock 1 + (2), Reed Warbler 5 + (7), Blackcap (1), Chiffchaff 1, Chaffinch (1) & Reed Bunting (1).

The Fingers' pair of swans still have 6 cygnets. We also saw 3 Greylags, Kingfisher, male Cuckoo, male Turtle Dove, Gt. Spotted Woodpecker, Common Whitethroat and a pair of Goldfinches.

So far this year, we have caught 13 different male and 10 different female Reed Warblers at this small reedbed.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New Tits

We have now completed checking the 28 tit boxes, all of which were occupied; there was an even split of 14 broods of Blue Tit and 14 of Great Tit.

We were able to ring 25 broods all told, 13 Blue and 12 Great. That's 115 Blue Tits and 73 Great Tits. One brood of Blue Tits had fledged and 2 broods of Great Tit went unringed (making 204 known young).

The average brood size for Blue Tits was 9.1 (range 5 - 11) and for Great Tits 6.6 (range 3 - 10).

The Blue Tits were, as a whole, one week ahead of their larger cousins this year. It is more normal for the larger tit to breed ahead of the smaller Blue Tit, but we suspect that the Blues are set in their ways (according to day-length), while the Great Tits move their laying date (according to the spring season's temperature). However, this spring is generally considered to have started 4 weeks later than in recent years.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday 22nd May 2010

Woke to glorious sun, arrived at the park at 07:30 to find thick fog. Couldn't see the island in the middle of the main lake! Unusually a number of Mute Swans were assembled on the grass at the sailing club, a later count numbered at least 55 on the main lake alone. There were still ~17 at the sailing club despite the activity of a number of youngsters preparing for some canoeing.

After a quiet week the birds seemed to be singing much more this morning although this may have been due to the fog which always seems to cause sound to carry much further. Along the main path as I approached the Rough on the left a Lesser Whitethroat was heard, several more bursts of song followed. I continued and met up with JA along the Spit. There was no sign of any of the Coot chicks and very little activity of any kind on Fingers.

A Sedge Warbler was singing on the south east corner of Fingers and a distant male Cuckoo was heard (possibly along the Cut). This got closer as we headed north along the navigation channel and we finally caught up with it along the Woodland walk as we headed back towards Fingers. A female was also heard and seen as it flew up out of the low cover alongside the Woodland walk.

We caught up with EN in the Rough doing his solo CES session. He'd had a singing Turtle Dove earlier in the morning. Garden Warblers were burbling away as we chatted and a couple of Bullfinches flew in. EN had juvenile Chaffinch while we were there but it was a slow morning generally, the fog not helping.

The fog was clearing as we left the Rough with sun breaking through. A number of Reed Warblers were singing in the main lake reed bed along with those in the crescent. A Sedge Warbler had sneaked past the Reed Warblers and was singing from the north east corner of the main lake. No sign of a Grey Wagtail along the Canoe Slalom this week and nothing out of the ordinary along the river to Fenlake. Very difficult to see anything, on Fenlake, through the vegetation but there was still some water over there despite the prolonged dry spell.

Back to the main lake I checked out my handy work from the May volunteer day, the steps down to the fishing swims, which were still looking nice and solid. We counted the Swans on the south side of the island before finalising the count from the north side for the count above. JA spotted 3 Coot chicks on the nest in the north west corner. They were being fed by one of the adults. Another 2 chicks joined them followed by the other adult.

By now it was a fine sunny morning, just in time for us to depart.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ivel Ringing Group: Late start.

Ivel Ringing Group: Late start.

Recent visits

Dawn Chorus Walk - 09/05/2010:

We managed to remain mostly dry for out 4:30am visit for the dawn chorus. Despite the early drizzle the birds didn't disapoint with the early starters inc. Blackbird, Robin and the odd Wren keeping us entertained while we waited for the off. In the Rough the volume was cranked up to full as the Garden Warblers, Blackcaps Reed and Sedge Warblers joined in along with the residents. Common Whitethroat was a late starter after the noise level began to ease off a little. Up to 3 male Cuckoo's were heard, a Little Egret also put in an appearance, flying over us as we watched from the bridge by the STW. It landed on the first lake on 100 Acre before moving off again and heading for Castle Mill. That was the highlight of a very pleasant early morning visit to the park.

Saturday 15th May:

Finally the sun put in an appearance again although it was still very cold early on, not frosty like earlier in the week though. Blackcap, Common Whitethroat and Willow Warbler were all heard in the car park. A party of Swifts were busy over the main lake. 2 famillies of Canada Geese were over by the sailing club, one with 6 goslings the other undetermined, as they were alltucked in around one of the adults, but may have been the 5 seen last week.

Met up with DK along the main path and we wandered around the crescent, enjoying the Reed Warblers, and along the Spit. 2 Terrapins were out basking on a log on west Fingers and lone male Gadwall was a little further along, GCC was still on nest as was the Mute Swan. DK mentioned that he had seen an Otter a couple of days previous, also the 3 Coot chicks were down to a single. There was a Coot with 2 chicks a little later on east Fingers.

A little after DK departed and JA arrived we had a flyover Little Egret, possibly from Fenlake and looked to be heading over to 100 Acre/Castle Mill. It seemed a little quieter again this week, Blackcaps were much less evident but Common Whitethroats were still around in good numbers. At the STW reed bed there were still a few vocal Sedge Warblers, a singing Reed Bunting and CW's on the far side of the bridge. Not much about on the first lake on 100 Acre, a few Pheasants in the field, some Tufted Ducks on the large lake, Lapwing and unidentified wader also.

EN and EG were in the Rough for a CES ringing session. On the east side of the main lake we had a flyover Jay, heading for The Barns. A quick check of Fenlake turned up a couple of Shelduck on the lake and that was just about the lot. Another good morning around the park.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Saturday 8th May: Step replacement

It was a braw bricht moonlicht nicht... well not quite that bad but it was a raw, wet, chilly Saturday morning that saw the start of our latest volunteer task. Despite the weather three hardy volunteers turned up to help replace steps down to a series of fishing swims (also good places to sit and watch the world go by when not occupied by fishermen).
Having replaced the steps down to the Finger Lakes Conservation zone last task the volunteers quickly settled down to work removing the old steps, cutting the new and then installing them. The team of volunteers and Ranger Nicky M. managed to replace three sets of steps, fuelled by copious amounts of tea and biscuits and with a storm kettle to warm themselves around.

The picture shows volunteer Dave trying to remove the indestructible post which despite being hit by a sledgehammer, levering out with a crowbar and other forms of gentle persuasion refused to budge. It finally succumbed to repeated efforts and snapped off near its base.

As ever, grateful thanks go to John, Stephen and Dave for all their hard work and we look forward to seeing you at our next task on Saturday 5th June.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Saturday 8th May 2010

It was a bit grim this morning and my bed was a too tempting so I was a little later than normal. Turned on my phone and had a message from DK, a Kittiwake was at the park. That got me moving!

Met up with DK and JA along the north shore of the main lake and they got me straight onto the Kittiwake which was gliding around the south side of the main lake in front of the hide. We watched it for a while before DK departed. Myself and JA decided to make at anti clockwise loop to make an early pass of Fenlake and hopefully get some closer views of the Kittiwake.

Fenlake was very disappointing with only a female Mallard with ducklings on the lake, a couple of singing Sedge Warblers and a singing Reed Bunting of note. So it was back to the main lake and some very nice passes by the Kittiwake along the south side as we headed for the hide. It then started to climb and headed out over the east side of the lake. We stopped in the hide but were unable to relocate the Kittiwake so it looked like it departed around 08:30, unfortunately I am unsure which direction but would guess at north east, given it's last known position.

Singing Goldcrest in the woods behind the Canoe Slalom, my first one for months! A stop at the Beach allowed us to make a count of the Hirundines, I got to ~130 mixed Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows. No Swifts early on. Only the usual 8 Common Terns. I was hoping for some Arctics or Black Terns but no sign.

A Garden Warbler was singing on the south east corner of the Finger Lakes and moved across the navigation channel to the woods as we watched. A Cuckoo was singing from the top of the Willows in the same corner. It moved to the Willow by the Dead Seat giving great views through the scope as we walked along the Spit. A pair of Coots with 3 youngsters seen on west Fingers. A pair of Canada Geese with 5 Goslings crossed the Spit from east to west Fingers. The drizzle and cold wasn't putting the the Reed Warblers off judging by the level of sound from the Crescent and main lake reed beds.

Nice views of a Common Whitethroat along the west side of Fingers. Little of note from Kramer hide. A singing Sedge Warbler as we approached the STW reed bed but all quiet when we got there. C.Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Blackcap all heard along the Woodland Walk. Very quiet in the Rough although Cuckoo heard again.

Then it was back to the VC to join the volunteers to replace some of the steps on the south side, main lake, fishing swims. A singing Blackcap in the scrub kept us entertained, then a party of Swifts arrived overhead (~20). A Pied Wagtail greeted us back at the VC on our return to unload the truck.

Thanks to Nicky for the warming cups of tea, pictures and report to come.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Saturday 1st May 2010

The forecast showers didn't arrive this week and, in fact, the morning turned out to be quite sunny as the early cloud moved away, only for the cloud to build again late in the morning.

In the car park a Common Whitethroat and a Blackcap were singing. A Cuckoo was calling from the south west corner of the main lake and another Common Whitethroat was singing on the island, yet another was singing behind the Visitor Centre. A large mix of Martins, Swallows and Swifts over the main lake (70+). Met DK along the main path just past the Steps and he'd had 3 House Martins and ~65 Swifts with ~40 of the Swifts and accompanying Sand Martins very high up. He'd also had a Common Sandpiper along the north shore of the main lake a little earlier.

JA arrived and DK departed missing a flyover Lapwing, heading out over Fenlake. Then we heard the Common Sandpiper calling as it flew past, west, along the north shore. Then it was an Oyster Catcher calling to the west of us. At the Crescent Reed Warblers had increased significantly compared to last week with ~15 along the north shore reed bed and in the Crescent (per DK).

More C. Whitethroats along the east side of the park (4), many new arrivals this week. Chiffchaffs seem to have gone a bit quiet this week so probably getting down to the business of nesting now although a few more were singing later as the sun warmed us up.

At the STW plenty of Sedge Warblers singing from the reed bed and along the river, a couple of Tufted Ducks and a Lapwing in and around the first lake on 100 Acre. Shoveler and Gadwall on the big lake. At Meadow Lane GP the Little Grebe was still in residence along with the pair of Coots.

Continuing along the cycle track, Skylarks were up and then, as we headed up to the bridge, a Lesser Whitethroat was heard singing. We tracked it down to the hedgerow at the entrance to the workings as you turn left at the top of the slope, instead of right to cross the bridge. We stood within 15 yards of the singing bird but could not get a view, they really are masters at skulking! As we stood there a Redshank called behind us and flew towards the Tern Pool as we turned around.

We crossed the bridge and watched the Lapwings in the crop fields and few Tufted Ducks on the Tern Pool. No Yellow Wagtail this week but a pair of Grey Partridge in the field just past the Tern Pool, along with a couple of Skylarks.

Returning along the track a Common Buzzard was spotted on the opposite side of the bridge, almost exactly where where we saw one last week. A Carrion Crow intercepted it and persisted in it's harassing of the Buzzard for some minutes as we watched and pondered as to why corvids do this. It's understandable when a predator is close to a nest or young but to waste so much energy in a pointless chase seems to go against natures rules, fun to watch though.

We crossed the bridge and picked up the buzzard again as it descended to a tree on the STW site. Then another Buzzard was spotted overhead, and another, I raised my binoculars and there were 2 more much higher above the first 2, then another joined the high level pair, superb!

Back at the smaller lake on 100 Acre a couple more Lapwing were present.

At the Rough we stood at the gate and listened to a Garden Warbler singing, new in this week, DK had mentioned this earlier, saying that yesterday there had been good numbers in the Rough.

Making a loop around the main lake we took the south side path, open now after the closed winter wildfowl season. The repaired seat is looking good. Having missed a call from DK we failed to check out Fenlake and see the Winchat over there. DK also had a report of Grasshopper Warbler over on Fenlake earlier.

A couple of Sedge Warblers were singing from the bushes a little further along the south side. 9 Common Terns were counted over the main lake from the disabled fishing swim. Along the west side Greenfinch were singing along with a couple of Goldfinch and as we turned the corner at the Beefeater a Robin was spotted with a beak full of food. The end of another cracking morning.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday 24th April 2010

A great morning for year ticks if you are in to that sort of thing, other wise just great to see and hear the new arrivals.

Common Terns are getting more numerous around the park with pairs noisily chasing around over the main lake, Fingers and up and down the navigation channel.

First new arrival, for me, was a Reed Warbler along the main lake reed bed between the Steps and Spit. Another 2 a little further along with a Sedge Warbler in between.

A Swallow flew in over the main lake from the north east.

A Cuckoo was heard and located in the top of the dead branches of the tree by the Dead Seat.

A Common Whitethroat was singing from the south east corner of Fingers. (New).

2 Swifts (New) were seen over Riverside accompanied by a Sand Martin.

At the Tern Pool, just over the bypass along the cycle track, a Yellow Wagtail (New) was spotted on the fence before it moved to the edge of the pool then back to the field and finally flying to the entrance road to the gravel works.

A Lesser Whitethroat (New) was heard as we started down the Grange Estate loop.

On the way back to the park a Common Buzzard was seen low over the bypass bridge. It drifted off towards the big lake on 100 Acre.

All in all a great morning with 5 year ticks plus the Cuckoo, which we heard during the guided walk last week, but this was my first sighting of the year.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring bird walk

One of EN's Robins singing in the Rough

A fine sunny day but with a cool if light NW wind. Good to see Stan on his feet, making an erudite return.

First up, 3 Common Terns over the main lake, plus 2 Lesser Black-backs. 3 pairs of grebe "hugging each other", least ways, not stirring far away. There were Coots sitting on eggs, still laying eggs, still building and others still wondering what to do. The female swan, of the No.1 pair, was sitting proud on her nest, high on the southern end of the island. However, we found a pair of interlopers tentatively setting about nest-building beside the main path (just before the spit).

The birdsong in the spit area was made up of Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Chaffinch and, of course, Dunnock. From the end of the spit we could see 3 Gadwall in breeding array, and we watched a female Gt. Spot. for a short while. We wandering round to the 'dead seat', enjoying Robin song, more Blackcaps and Chiffs, busy Blue Tits, mewling Bullfinch and an elusive Willow Warbler.

As we were about to enter the 'new meadow', we heard the call of a male Cuckoo, somewhere over towards the sewage farm, moving along Kingsmead perhaps. This is a site first for 2010, and is 2 days ahead of the mean date for the last decade (DK) and 4 days ahead of the 'nineties. Great and Blue Tits were keeping close to their individual boxes as we walked the 'long hedge. At the 'concrete bridge', another rather elusive Willow Warbler.

We meandered through the 'woodland walk', arriving at the 'navigation. Here we were given an excellent opportunity to watch 3 Sedge Warblers, singing and not taking much of a liking to each other. Over the bridge, there was little to excite except, perhaps, a pair of Lapwing in the near distance. We concluded today's walk back along the New Cut, listening to various Blackcaps, Dunnocks and Chiffs. A Green Woodpecker was glimpsed following its give-away "laugh". "Back at the ranch", we tried to tie down the singing Willow Warbler near the centre, but failed miserably to get other than a fleeting glimpse of it.

Next walk - 4:30 AM on Sunday 9th May for the 'dawn chorus' followed by coffe and bickies!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday 17th April 2010

A scouting mission before the guided walk tomorrow morning and a cold start too. Scraped the frost off my car before I set off! Fantastic clear blue sky, what a difference it makes with no planes flying at the moment, no sign of the ash cloud either.

First up was a single Common Tern over the main lake, my first this year. A Willow Warbler was singing behind the Visitor Centre and a Blackcap was singing in the car park. Several pairs of Great Crested Grebes displaying to each other on the main lake, no sign of the pair on Fingers today, the nest site looked deserted, still they always seem to take several attempts to get it right. 2 male Gadwall and 3 Tufted Ducks (1f) on Fingers with Blackcap singing at the end of the Spit. The two pairs of Mute Swans were both on their nests, 1 on Fingers and one on the main lake island, on the main lake the resident male had his hands full trying to clear out invaders, giving up in the end and settling for an exclusion zone around the island. DK had a Sedge Warbler along the edge of the main lake just as he reached Fingers along the main path. JA joined us by the Crescent and DK departed taking the opposite route around Fingers.

Plenty of Blackcaps around the park with odd Chiffies and Willow Warblers also. At the STW reed bed we heard our first Sedge Warblers of the year but only managed fleeting glimpses as they darted in and out of the reeds. We took the cycle track out towards Willington checking out each of the lakes. A couple of Mallards with a single duckling on the first, small, pool. On the large lake on 100 Acre a Redshank was heard and few Tufteds were seen. At Meadow Lane GP we flushed a Snipe and Little Grebe was in residence. Plenty of Skylarks in the fields either side of the bypass. On the Tern Pool there were at least 10 Tufted Ducks. No sign of any Yellow Wagtails but plenty of great view of the skylarks including one just a few metres away along the track.

Heading back there were several Lapwings displaying over the fields and a couple of Stock Doves feeding in the ploughed field opposite the Tern Pool. A Willow Warbler was singing in the Trees as we reached Meadow Lane GP again. Minimum of 14 Sand Martins over the STW. Back at the STW Reed Bed and we finally got good views of a singing Sedge Warbler along the edge of the Navigation Channel, brilliant.

Along the Woodland Walk Bullfinch was heard along with ticking Blackcap and singing Chiffy. Heading into the Fingers complex both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers flew from the large Willows on the right. JA spotted a Common Buzzard gliding north west over Riverside. EN and EG were in the Sheep Pen. On our way towards the Steps we spotted a Bat Box that has seen some Woodpecker attention, probably the one we had heard earlier. We thought it was on a nest box judging by the hollow sound but DK mentioned they had been on the bat boxes.

No sign of Grey Wagtails along the Canoe Slalom, probably too late. At Fenlake JA thought he'd heard a Grasshopper Warbler but it was just a distant Sedge Warbler, no less welcome though. There were at least 4 Teal on Fenlake and Kestrel was spotted hunting over the back of the lake.

Little else of note on the rest of the circuit but the Willow Warbler was still singing by the VC when we reached the car park. Another very enjoyable morning, lets hope it's just as good tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

11th April: Step replacement, hedging and fencing

A beautiful balmy April Sunday saw our baker's dozen of volunteers do a variety of tasks to help improve the park.

One group replaced the wooden steps down into the Fingers Conservation zone, not only removing the old sets but also an even earlier set found buried under those. The pictures show the task in progress and the team taking a well deserved break on the newly replaced steps.

With seven of our volunteers on the step team another four were off dead hedging (a fence woven from branches and twigs) around a wooded area opposite the Labyrinth where a natural play area is being created over the coming months. The hedge establishes the play area's boundaries and will help avoid problems with dog fouling. Dave B. one of our volunteers and keen birder particularly appreciated the songbirds serenading the team as they worked.

Yet another group of three volunteers helped to replace a fencepost and wiring to repair a fence which prevents access to parts of the Fingers Conservation area which is a haven for wildlife away from the public. The photo shows Robert and Mo hard at work putting the new fencepost in place. A good dead hedge of the last bits of willow coppiced in the previous task made the fence even more impenetrable.

Another team started work to help control wave erosion by the beach, which the Rangers finished later in the week by willow spiling (a woven willow fence at the lake edge, using willow coppiced in the last task).

So once again a very big thanks to our hard working volunteers: Mo, Bob, Robert, Geoff, Paul, Dave B., Gerald, David W., Gordon, David P., Alan, John and Matt.

The next task is Saturday 8th May, replacing fishing swim steps.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday 11th April 2010

It's that time of the month again and the sun shone on the volunteer group. This month the main task was the replacement of the steps down to the Finger Lakes conservation zone, however a great turnout of volunteers meant we were able crack on with several other tasks. I joined a group doing some dead hedging in the area opposite the labyrinth. This will become a natural play area for children so the dead hedging is required to keep out dogs and the associated mess. Meanwhile the main group got busy on the steps and another group replaced the fence at the end of the Spit.

It was great working in the plantation being serenaded by a Blackcap which seemed to be doing a circuit of the area. Chaffinch, Robin and Wren were also in the area.

Lunch quickly arrived and the Steps team had done a great job almost completing the task. After lunch my group headed down to the Beach to begin shoring up the bank at the flood channel. We got started on the task by driving in some half round posts along the edge of the bank to prevent any further erosion.

A Cormorant had me grabbing for my bins as it did it's very best Great Northern Diver impression but sadly not.

We packed up a little earlier than expected having run out of materials but at least we'd made a start.

Earlier, on arrival, I had Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap singing at the car park. There was also a mixed flock of Swallows and Sand Martins over the main lake.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

This and that

For full details of today's ringing in the rough go to here

Although the swans have set up their individual territories, one on the main lake, the other on Fingers, they have not managed to chase off every juvenile.

The ringers have been out this week ringing along the Embankment, where alot of the younger swans have moved to (birders call it "a club").

Not all the Canada pairs have managed to carve out a territory on the main island (Fingers is similarly limited) as implied by this pair caught by the "banana seat".

The 'spit' is looking good - and I might even contemplate a "dawn raid" sometime next week. Any takers?